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Monday, August 15, 2022

North South Lake - Camping in the Catskills of New York

One of my first trips with Adam was a little winter getaway to the Tiny House Resort in the Catskills of New York. I won a stay on Instagram and invited the man I had known for a month to spend a weekend with me in 200 square feet in snowy New York. He surprisingly said yes and we packed up the dogs and spent the perfect winter weekend hiking in New York. One of our hikes took us to Newman's Ledge at North South Lake. This new to us spot had two lakes with swimming areas, a beautiful campground, playgrounds, canoe rentals, and just about everything you need for a summer camping getaway. Quickly after that trip, the understated Catskills became one of my favorite spots to visit in just about every season. After our hike to Newman's Ledge and seeing the snow-covered lakes, we made a mental note to come back in the summer. A few years later, we finally did with our son. 

Beach/Swimming Area at North Lake
Beach/Swimming Area at North Lake

Why North-South Lake?

The campground is run by the State of New York Department of Environmental Conservation. I was amazed at just how spacious and nice these campsites were. Sometimes campsites feel devoid of nature and far too close to your neighbor. These sites are either heavily-wooded or perched right on the lakeshore depending on when you book and what kind of site you are looking for. They are really big and well spaced out and all of the sites offer a fire area with a grate and picnic table. There is potable water dispersed through the campground and up-to-date clean facilities with bathrooms, showers, and dishwashing stations. Our campsite had a ton of trees to hang a hammock and room for the boys to be, well, boys. You could truly spend a few days swimming and relaxing at the campground but if you chose to explore some more, you are also close to some great activities and hikes including Kaaterskill Falls, Hunter Mountain and the Skyride

Our Tent/Hammock Campsite

There are two swimming areas typically manned by lifeguards, During our 2022 stay, the beaches were all closed due to a lifeguard shortage. However, we enjoyed the swimming areas with other campers with the "swim at your own risk" kind of vibe. There are also hiking trails around the lake, hiking trails through the park, playgrounds, boat rentals, and picnic/day use areas.

Playground at North South Lake Campground
Playground at North South Lake Campground

We chose two wooded sites next to each other and spent two nights camping with my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and their three boys. To say Whitney had a wonderful few days chasing around his cousins would be an understatement. We grabbed the kids and headed out on the perfect short kid-friendly hike to the former Catskill Mountain House site and overlook. The hike leaves from the South Lake Pavilion and follows a wide trail to the overlook. At just over 1/2 mile round trip, it's doable for kids and offers an incredible view. 

Trail to the Former Catskill Mountain House Site/Overlook
Trail to the Former Catskill Mountain House Site/Overlook

Former Catskill Mountain House Site/Overlook
Former Catskill Mountain House Site/Overlook

Lakefront campsites at North South Lake
Lakefront campsites at North South Lake

Need to Know

Reservations: online at - book early as it sells out fast. 
Camping Season: Mid-May through mid-October
Fee/People: $22 a night. Each site accommodates 6 people (2 tents, or 1 camping unit and 1 tent), and 2 cars maximum

Amenities: Modern clean bathrooms, showers, and a wash sink at each camping loop. 

Highlights: Biggest campground in the Catskills with large private sites ranging from heavily wooded to right on the lake. Each site has a picnic table and fire pit with a grate for cooking. Really family-friendly campground and an ice cream truck came by the campsite twice a day. Everything you need to enjoy a Catskills summer, swimming included (you never need to leave the campground). There is a cute little convenience store right down the road with camping amenities, beer, ice cream, firewood, and more. 
Dogs: YES! Dogs are allowed in the camping area. You will need to bring proof of rabies vaccination with you. They are not allowed at the beaches or picnic area. 
Activities: Hiking, walking paths, swimming, playgrounds, boat rental, Junior Naturalist Program for kids ages 5-13. 
Close by: Hunter Mountain, Kaaterskill Falls, former Catskill Mountain House 

We had such a great trip camping in the Catskill at North South Lake. In a tech-driven world with pandemics and politics making our lives a bit crazier, it's nice to slow down and enjoy time together as a family. I can't tell you how happy it made me to see the families outside by the campfire together, to see gangs of kids on bikes riding around the safe campground roads. To see littles ones in the lakes and teens out on the trails. I immediately told Adam that I would love to make a camping weekend at North South our newest tradition, one that our kids remember and look forward to year after year. The beach and swimming areas, the modern (clean!) amenities, the big private sites and the charm of the campground make it the perfect trip for any family or friends looking for a weekend away in the woods.

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